Working or looking after a family can be hard work, even when you’re well. It may seem impossible to try to juggle work life and/or family life at the same time as coping with cancer and all the emotions it can cause. It can also feel difficult to support other people when you feel in need of support yourself.
It is important to be realistic about what you can manage.
Try to get help from a partner, your family or your friends before things become too much for you to cope with. You may need to give up some or all of your responsibilities for a short time. This may help you concentrate on coping with the cancer and its effects.
If you’re a parent, you may not be able to do all the things you usually do for your children. This doesn’t mean you have failed in any way. It just means you need to plan your time and save your energy for the most important tasks.
Your family members may also be finding it difficult to cope with changes to family life. They also will have fears about the future. Try to talk openly about concerns and how you can help support each other.
Work is an important part of life for some people. It can help to have a discussion with your employer about the best way to manage your work. If you’re finding things very difficult to cope with, you may need to take time off until you feel better. It can feel very different going back to work. Your priorities can change, and you may want to consider working part-time or returning to work gradually.
You may find our information about work and cancer helpful. If you’re self-employed, you may also like to read our information about self-employment and cancer. We also have information for carers about working while caring for someone with cancer.
You may try to hide what you really feel so that you don’t upset other people. But it can be reassuring to get your concerns out in the open and find that others feel the same. Talking about your worries may be all you need to do to help you manage your family and work life. You may find our information on talking to family and friends about your cancer helpful.
It may also be helpful to talk to someone outside the family, such as a good friend or trained counsellor.